A few days after absorbing a debilitating, 11-2 loss against then-No. 1 Gilman, Calvert Hall's junior keeper, Strider Dickson, had his best lacrosse game of the season.
It came in a 5-4 upset victory over then-No. 2 St. Paul's -- which later defeated Gilman -- as Dickson dug in to make 17 saves.
"Having played Gilman the Friday before, I expected to see a lot more of that type of offense from St. Paul's," said Dickson.
"[St. Paul's attackman] Tucker Radebaugh is an incredible feeder, but Joe Periello did a good job on him, and our defense made sure there was no one for him to pass to. And I guess I got into a zone. It was a real confidence boost."
Including the St. Paul's victory, Dickson has anchored No. 6 Calvert Hall (7-6) to wins in three of its past four games, helping the Cardinals to go over .500 for the first time this season.
The victories have helped Calvert Hall to secure the sixth and final berth in next week's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs.
"Strider's proven he's not going to let the team down. He's a team player," said Cardinals' midfielder Ryan Lachowicz. "I feel confident that, unless the shot's from point-blank range, Strider's not going to let it get past him."
The Cardinals' first-round opponent in next week's MIAA tournament is No. 5 Boys' Latin, which has twice beaten the Cardinals -- most recently by an 8-6 decision in which Dickson had 13 saves.
Dickson, named for a warrior in a fantasy-adventure novel series, began playing lacrosse as a third-grader. Dickson was first an attackman -- a position he loathed.
"I like being in the goal and being a defensive leader," said Dickson, who maintains an A average. "I feel it's my job to control the transition, and to give the team a boost at times."
Dickson has done just that, whether bellowing directions or blocking the nets with his 6-foot, 167-pound body.
He's averaging 14 saves. Only two teams, Gilman and No. 3 St. Mary's (10 goals), have scored in double figures against him.
"Because we've been getting out-shot on offense, we wouldn't be in it [the playoffs] if Strider wasn't stopping shots," said Cardinals' coach Mike Thomas.
"Last year, Strider split time with Mickey Jarbo, but he [Dickson] went out and worked hard on his skills over the summer, so he's largely a self-made player."
Dickson's defenses will have to be primed for tomorrow's game against top-ranked Loyola.
Calvert Hall takes a two-game winning streak against the Dons, the latter being Tuesday's 8-5 victory over No. 9 Mount St. Joseph in which Dickson had 15 saves.
"I couldn't do it without our defense. We all get along well, and we constantly push each other," said Dickson. "So being a leader's not a problem."